The Observers

Mistreated maids in Lebanon, police looting stores in Algeria, and more...

This show is made up entirely of amateur images. We've seen time and time again how images captured by ordinary citizens then uploaded onto the Web can change history, or at least shift the balance of power. This week, we take a look back at some of those moments.


STORY 1: Lebanon

We begin today with the plight of household workers living in parts of the Middle East. In the Gulf countries - and Lebanon and Jordan - they have something called "kefala" laws. They allow people to bring domestic workers into the country by acting as their sponsor. When they get there, the workers find their sponsors have unlimited power over them. Take a look what happened when one Lebanese employer decided he no longer wanted his Ethiopian maid.

He first took her to the Ethiopian consulate. When they told him they couldn't send her back to Ethiopia, he decided to take her to the airport himself. (UPSOUND SCREAMS) In the end the police intervened, and took the young woman to a mental hospital. She ended up committing suicide, on the 14th of March. Her name was Alem Dechasa.

We asked one of our Lebanese Observers, Ali Fakry, about the video. Ali is an antiracism activist. He says this kind of thing happens only too often.

STORY 2: Morocco

Now to Morocco, to the Rif mountains in the north. People in the region have long complained of economic neglect. They've been protesting about it this month - and have been beaten back by the security forces. But what really got people was that the security forces apparently went on a looting spree.

We spoke to Mohamed El Asrihi, a jobseeker who joined the protests.

It's not just the protesters who say the police looted. We contacted a restaurant owner, who said police broke into his register. Local politicians are demanding an investigation.

STORY 3: World

Now for our weekly roundup of the best images and stories sent in by our Observers.

First stop, Cairo, and the imposing 'walls' that have been built by the military government to discourage continued demonstrations. They've been up since protests flared again late last year - and people are getting sick of them, including our Observer, Shehab Diab. He got together with other artists for a special "No more walls" day earlier this month. They painted the walls as a political statement - that you can wall people in physically, but you can't wall in their ideas.

Now another wall, this one in Maputo, Mozambique, courtesy of our observer Janet Gunter. It's called "The People's Wall" and it's actually made for writing on. It was put up by a local newspaper called 'Verdade', or 'Truth'. People walking by can write out their suggestions for the country. The paper's staff photograph the suggestions, classify them, and put them online, in the name of citizen journalism.

Finally today, Henan province in China, along the Hong Kong Beijing motorway. Police have come up with a new way to fight speeding: fake police cars, complete with warning messages and flashing lights. They're especially effective at night, police say - but not so good during the day.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning